Sunday, August 16, 2015

Breath test analyzer could help detect liver disease at early stage

In the journal EBioMedicine, a study led by the University of Birmingham in the UK suggests that high levels of a natural compound called limonene in the breath could be a sign of early-stage cirrhosis of the liver.

Researchers say that we already know that the breath of people with liver disease has a very distinct smell, and they wanted to find out what causes it. Now they have found a biomarker for the disease in limonene, they can continue to verify how good it is for diagnosing liver disease.

Limonene is a natural compound found in fruits and vegetables and in abundance in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. It is also found in cosmetics, perfume and cleaning products and is used to flavor candies.

Because symptoms tend to be vague and often mild during the early stages, patients with liver disease do not usually seek medical advice until the condition is advanced and the liver is more damaged. Even then, symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases. They can include fatigue, jaundice, bleeding, swelling, bruising easily, confusion and nausea.

Cirrhosis is where continuous, long-term damage causes the liver to become so scarred it cannot function properly. The disease can lead to liver failure and cancer.

In the UK, where the new study took place, liver disease has risen sharply in recent decades to become the third biggest cause of early death, with 75% of deaths being alcohol related.

Breath levels of limonene higher in patients with liver cirrhosis

Researchers carried out their study in two phases. First, they compared breath samples from 31 patients with liver cirrhosis with those from 30 healthy controls.

In the second phase, they compared breath samples taken before and after liver transplants. The before samples came from the same 31 patients as in the first phase, and the after samples came from 11 of those patients who went on to have liver transplants.

The breath samples were analyzed with a mass spectrometer. For phase 1, this showed that the level of limonene in the patients with liver cirrhosis were much higher than in the healthy controls.

The researchers say this is probably because a diseased liver cannot fully metabolize limonene.

The phase 2 analysis showed that the levels of limonene gradually dropped in the transplant patients in the days following receipt of their new organ.

Limonene is 'unambiguously associated with diseased liver'

There have been previous attempts to find possible biomarkers for liver disease but these have suggested compounds like isoprene and acetone, which are not specific enough since they can also be indicative of other diseases or even arise naturally from normal metabolic activity.

Researchers wanted to find a biomarker that is unambiguously associated with diseased liver. If the further research is successful, in the future we can envisage a small portable breath analyser that can be used by GPs and other health professionals to screen for early-stage liver disease, leading to earlier treatment and better survival rates.

A particularly important advantage of breath tests is that they offer the opportunity to assess the global function of the liver, rather than a localized test such as biopsy.

The study is important, because for the first time it opens a potential route to noninvasive, real-time detection of early-stage liver disease. The researchers conclude that If that is possible, then the disease could be reversed by drugs and lifestyle change which would lead to major socioeconomic impacts.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Khatore Pharmaceuticals and other organisations work to spread awareness about hepatitis

With over 3/4 of people in India being unaware about the existence of Hepatitis, many medical exerts of the country have decided to start an online data registry detailing the rising number of hepatitis patients. Khatore Pharmaceuticals also ran a campaign in Delhi to make people aware of liver disorders including distributing pamphlets to people near metro stations.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The aim is to make people aware of problem and precaution that they can take to prevent it from spreading. 

The registry will be part of the newly formed Indian National Association for Study of Liver and Current Perspective in Liver Disease constituted by the leading gastroenterologists of the country. The association will also disseminate information to the regional hospitals and help the health centres located in remote areas of the country get the medicine supply.

Talking about lack of awareness about the deadly disease, the experts said that Hepatitis was 28 times more dangerous than AIDS due to the absence of symptoms, even as the disease spreads gradually in the patient.

Four lakh people die due to liver diseases, a result of hepatitis, in India every year. The states most affected by the disease are Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh among few others, they said.

75% of the hepatitis, may it be B or C, is curable at the initial stage. However, as the symptoms are not felt, the person gets to know about it only when the virus causes liver cancer.

Through the registry, the hot spots of Hepatitis across the country can be brought into lime light and accordingly medical healthcare in those areas can be improved, precisely the treatment for liver diseases.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Resistance training can help patients suffering from fatty liver disease

Resistance training also called strength training or weight training in the gym leads to a fall in liver fat levels. This is the finding of a new study held at the University in Tel Aviv. According to experts, for patients suffering from physical limitations or low motivation that prevents them performing aerobic exercises, resistance training can be an effective alternative.

On the basis of past studies, fatty liver disease is defined as a fat rate in excess of 5-10 percent of liver volume. The disease affects approximately 30 percent of the public and is considered the commonest liver disease in the Western world. Excessive weight, abdominal obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and in particular triglycerides increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease, which can lead to inflammation and cirrhosis of the liver.

The disease is usually asymptomatic, although patients sometimes report fatigue and a lack of vitality by comparison to healthy individuals. Fatty liver causes morbidity and mortality due to metabolic complications such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the development of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Although patients with the disease recognize the importance of physical activity, they often lack the motivation to engage in such activity, particularly in the case of aerobic exercises, which are usually time consuming.

The researchers decided to examine the impact of resistance training - which is usually briefer and more focused than aerobic exercises - on fatty liver disease. The study included 82 subjects aged 20-65 who were diagnosed by means of an ultrasound as suffering from fatty liver disease over the six months before the beginning of the study. The participants were divided randomly into a resistance training group and a control group that was asked only to undertake stretching exercises. The participants were asked not to change their physical activity habits during the study, to continue their usual diet, and to take their prescribed medicines. During the study the participants underwent examinations of weight, blood pressure, a blood test for liver enzymes, lipids, blood sugar, and insulin. Resistance training in the gym was defined according to a uniform protocol, with the level of resistance adjusted to the patient's capabilities. The training, that was designed and delivered, included several sets of different resistance exercises involving the arms, chest, and legs and lasting for a total of 40 minutes, three times a week.
At the end of the three-month study, the researchers found that resistance training in the gym led to a decrease in liver fat based on the fat content of the liver as detected in the special ultrasound examination employed by the study. The resistance training was not intended to reduce body weight significantly, and indeed overall weight loss was very slight. However, it seems that the resistance training had a specific impact in terms of a fall in liver fat levels as measured in the ultrasound examination.

The study also found that gym training led to a significant fall in blood cholesterol levels. We assume that the physical exercise improves the resistance to insulin, thereby reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver and its level in the blood. This study also shows for the first time that resistance training led to a reduction in ferritin levels in the blood. Ferritin is a protein found in the liver that facilitates the storage of iron. However, elevated levels of ferritin can be indicative of liver damage, including inflammation. Accordingly, a fall in ferritin levels may reflect an improvement in the condition of the liver.

Friday, July 31, 2015

World Hepatitis Day: Mass awareness, immunisation needed to help curb spread of hepatitis

Mass awareness, universal guideline for immunization and hygienic handling of food and water will help curb hepatitis, said experts on Tuesday while observing world Hepatitis Day. About, two million people contract hepatitis every year from unsafe injections. These infections can be averted through the use of sterile syringes that are specifically designed to prevent reuse. Eliminating unnecessary injections is also an effective strategy.

 Experts stressed on the urgent need to enhance action to prevent viral hepatitis infection and to ensure that people who have been infected are diagnosed and offered treatment. The WHO this year, is focusing particularly on hepatitis B and C, which together cause approximately 80% of all liver cancer deaths and kill close to 1.4 million people every year. In addition to hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A and E viruses also cause viral hepatitis. These two viruses are primarily transmitted through contact with contaminated food and water and are responsible for less than 1% of all hepatitis-related deaths.

While explaining about poor target achieved in case of administration of Hepatitis-B0, the experts say "About 30-33% deliveries take place at sub-centres which do not have round-the-clock vaccination facility. Moreover, deliveries at private hospitals most of the time go unrecorded; hence the first dose of vaccination to the newborn within 24 hours remains unattended."

Viral hepatitis is caused by five distinct hepatitis viruses. Infection from these viruses results in approximately 1.45 million deaths each year. These viruses are transmitted through contaminated water and food, as well as by contact with blood or bodily fluids, through unsafe injections or transfusions. Infection also occurs from mother to child, or through sexual contact. Infection through all these routes of transmission can be prevented through proven and effective interventions. It is important for everyone to be aware of hepatitis and to learn how they can protect themselves from being infected.

Focusing on this year's theme - 'Prevent hepatitis. Act now', the workshop discussed various preventive measures.

Medicines are now available that can cure or help control in most people with hepatitis C and hepatitis B infection. People who receive these medicines are less likely to die from liver cancer and cirrhosis and also less likely to transmit the virus to others.

Patients should demand safe injection. Approximately, two million people per year contract hepatitis from unsafe injections. These infections can be averted through the use of sterile syringes that are specifically designed to prevent reuse. Eliminating unnecessary injections is also an effective strategy to protect against hepatitis transmission.

The WHO recommends vaccinating all children against hepatitis B infection, from which approximately 7.8 lakh people die each year.

As per Government of India, the vaccination schedule under the Universal Immunisation Programme for Hepatitis B vaccine is of 4 doses; 0 dose within 24 hours of birth and three doses at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

World Hepatitis Day 2015: Prevent hepatitis. Act now

On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is highlighting the urgent need for countries to enhance action to prevent viral hepatitis infection and to ensure that people who have been infected are diagnosed and offered treatment.

This year, the Organization is focusing particularly on hepatitis B and C, which together causes approximately 80% of all liver cancer deaths and kills close to 1.4 million people every year.

The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is “Prevent hepatitis. Act now”.

In India, it is estimated that prevalence of hepatitis C infection is more than 6 times the prevalence of HIV infection. The World Health Organisation has called the HCV a “viral time bomb”, which signifies that the policy makers must pay the required attention towards this health issue.

WHO is alerting people to the risk of contracting hepatitis from infected blood, infected injections, and sharing drug-injection equipment.

Risk factors, symptoms and causes

Hepatitis A: This form of hepatitis is commonly found in children and is usually spread by fecal-oral contact or fecal-infected food and water.

A baby could get hepatitis A by consuming food/water contaminated with HAV-infected stool.

Parents might not even know that their children have caught the disease as hepatitis A can be a mild infection. However, in serious cases of infection, symptoms include fever, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, and jaundice.

Hepatitis A usually causes mild illness, but it can also cause prolonged illness for upto six months

Hepatitis B: The hepatitis B virus is spread by contact with blood and other body fluids of an infected person. Infants may contract hepatitis B if they are born to a mother who has the virus.

In adults, it can be transmitted through unprotected sex with an HBV-infected person and sharing of contaminated needles or syringes for injecting drugs.

Symptoms may range from a mild illness to more serious chronic liver disease that can result in liver failure. Common symptoms may include fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, etc.

Hepatitis C: It is more common in adults than in children. Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with human blood and other body fluids. A baby can also get hepatitis C from his/her infected mother.

In adults, it can also be acquired through sexual contact with an infected person or through intravenous drug use.

Symptoms are usually mild and children often show no symptoms at all and therefore, parents get to know about their kid's disease at a later stage.

Hepatitis C leads to chronic liver disease in a majority of people infected with the virus. HCV is also considered to be the leading cause for liver transplantation in adults. Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is also linked with cancer.

Tests and diagnosis

All of the above conditions can be diagnosed through blood tests. A healthcare provider may also ask for liver function tests in order to determine the extent of the damage. A liver biopsy may be asked to do to further check for organ damage. Other tests and diagnostic procedures to determine the extent of the disease include CT scans and MRI.


Like any other diseases, practising a good hygiene can help prevent the risk of getting as well as spreading hepatitis. Other preventive measures include:

Vaccinations - vaccinations are available for HAV and HBV, unfortunately, there's no vaccine for HCV.

WHO recommends vaccinating all children against hepatitis B infection. The vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by 2 or 3 doses to complete the vaccine series. A safe and effective vaccine can protect from hepatitis B infection for life.

WHO also recommends vaccinating adults who are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis B.

Blood transfusion – to reduce the risk of infection, blood transfusion is routinely screened for hepatitis B and C.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tobacco smoking and chewing raises the risk of Leukoplakia and Oral cancer

With leukoplakia, thickened, white patches form on our gums, the insides of our cheeks, the bottom of our mouth and, sometimes, our tongue. These patches can't be scraped off.
Tobacco — whether smoked, dipped or chewed — is considered to be the main culprit in its development. Tobacco use puts you at high risk of leukoplakia and oral cancer. Drinking alcohol combined with smoking further increases your risk.
Leukoplakia usually isn't dangerous, but it can sometimes be serious. Although most leukoplakia patches are noncancerous (benign), some show early signs of cancer. Many cancers on the floor of the mouth — beneath the tongue — occur next to areas of leukoplakia. For that reason, it's best to see a good doctor if you have unusual, persistent changes in your mouth. Oral cancer is a potentially serious complication of leukoplakia. Oral cancers often form near leukoplakia patches, and the patches themselves may show cancerous changes. Even after leukoplakia patches are removed, the risk of oral cancer remains.
When to see a doctor
Sometimes mouth sores can be annoying or painful without being harmful. But in other cases, mouth problems can indicate a more serious condition.
See a good doctor if you have any of the following:
  • White plaques or sores in your mouth that don't heal on their own within two weeks
  • Lumps or white, red or dark patches in your mouth
  • Persistent changes in the tissues of your mouth

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Some home remedies to treat stomach ache

A tummy ache is a common complaint and affects people of all ages. The causes could be several — indigestion, menstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome or even gastritis. Simple home remedies might not cure us of our ailment but will definitely ease our symptoms and give us temporary relief. Here's what can help...

- When tummy aches during period, try sipping on a cup of hot chamomile tea. It will ease the cramps and lessen the spasms. Even a regular stomach ache can also be treated with chamomile tea. Its anti-inflammatory properties will relax the muscles of upper digestive track so that the contractions that thrust food in our system, will ease up and reduce cramps and soothe your stomach.

- A hot compress is also an effective way to treat a stomachache. Use a hot water bag or an electric heat pad that will relax abdominal muscles and ease the discomfort.

- An old remedy but an effective one, drinking a cup of rice water will also help ease tummy aches. Instead of throwing away the water that is left after the rice is cooked, add some to a cup and sip on it. It is said to soothe inflammation and provide relief.

- A cup of warm peppermint tea is also said to work wonders when it comes to treating stomachaches. It ensures that your digestive tract works properly by making digestion an easy process.

- Add a few drops of lemon juice in a glass of hot water and drink it. This will help improve the production of hydrochloric acid, known to break down the food you consume and ensures easy digestion.

- Ginger tea is another good option. Simply add some ginger bits to a cup of hot tea and drink it. The chemicals present in ginger relax the stomach muscles and relieve cramps. You could also add ginger bits to honey and warm water and drink it.